Through nearly the first eight months of his historic 2011 season, Novak Djokovic lost a total of one match. But now, in 2012, he already has lost twice, both in semifinals. While that's hardly a cause for significant concern, especially considering Djokovic claimed the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia, it just proves that duplicating the year he had in 2011 is impossible.
On Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open in the unusually rainy desert at Indian Wells, Calif., Djokovic was outplayed by rising - and late-blooming - American John Isner 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (5). The 6-foot-9 Isner used his trademark booming serve to keep relentless pressure on the usually unflappable Djokovic. Normally, the top-ranked Serb is immune to strong serving, as Djokovic has the best return in the game. But Isner's tremendous height adds a degree of deception to his deliveries that not even Djokovic can thwart if Isner is serving well. Indeed, if Isner is serving at a high level, he's as dangerous as anyone.
It was unquestionably the biggest win yet for Isner, who has three victories against top-ranked foes in the last few months. It was the first victory by an American over the No. 1 player since 2008. The victory also means Isner will climb into the Top 10 for the first time in his career.